If you are a 7 out of 10 kind of a guy at a party and you channel all your efforts in an attempt to move in on a 9 or 10 out of 10 girl then chances are you will go home disappointed. This pretty much sums up the pitfalls of the West Ham transfer strategy. By the time you realise that you have wasted your energy in pursuit of the unattainable, all of the 7 or 8 out of 10’s are already spoken for. In the very rare circumstance where you actually strike out with that perfect 10 then more than likely they will come with high maintenance ‘issues’ especially when the good time that you promised turns out to be a night at the bingo; this pretty much sums up the Dimitri Payet situation.
The Transfer Window has now creaked forward to Day 18 and there has been little movement to date either at West Ham or elsewhere. This hasn’t impeded the rumour mill industry, though, which moves on apace with teasing click-bait headlines reaching new levels of imagination to tempt the eager reader to stories about Marcus Browne signing a new contract or where next for itinerant South American, Jonathan Calleri.
The ‘maybe there is no smoke without fire’ links continue to focus on such familiar names as Scott Hogan and Robert Snodgrass but with recently added noise of Chris Woods from Leeds, old man Jose Fonte of Southampton and Gylfi Sigurdsson of Swansea. Earlier speculation regarding a return to West Ham for Jermaine Defoe has gone seemingly quiet once it was revealed we were offering a subscription to Sunday Sport online and an Ann Summers voucher in return for his signature . Of the names mentioned I would be happy with Hogan (a gamble but this is the pond that we are fishing in) and Sigurdsson but I doubt the Icelander, excellent player that he is, will leave Swansea until the summer.
With the win over Palace at the weekend putting daylight between the Hammers and the relegation favourites (plus the sense that Feghouli may have something to offer after all) I am hoping that there can be an objective, level-headed reappraisal of transfer window requirements. The panic mode sensor can be set down several notches. An additional striker and right back remain priorities and any available funds should be invested in quality replacements not simple emergency gap fillers. I am convinced the board would like to bring in someone new to boost their own ratings. Then, unless something special comes up, I would then leave the squad alone with a view to strengthening under our own terms in the summer. It will be no comfort come July to hear that we borrowed out of the war chest to bring in some 30+ year old backup players when there are a number of youngsters who could do just as good a job.
It will be interesting to see how the Payet situation pans out. If he is truly only interested in a return to France (as his PR now claims) then this would appear to put a severe limitation on available options unless he considers Arsenal as an overseas French protectorate. When the story first broke there was fairly widespread condemnation of Payet’s petulance but in recent days there have been a few in the media coming to his defence; accusing football fans of being deluded by expecting loyalty from players. Now I am aware that modern day journalism is more about attention seeking and generating a reaction but these articles tend to adopt a very black and white perspective of what has happened to suit their purpose. Yes, we know very well that players come and go all the time (after all we had wheeler dealer extraordinaire Harry Redknapp as manager at one point) but there is a world of difference between a player who continues to act in a professional manner while negotiating a move away and one who takes his ball home and refuses to play again. Secretly, I would like to see Payet left in limbo for the rest of the season but, in the end, it will be a commercial decision for the owners to take once someone comes along with a sensible offer.
Finally, away from transfers I ventured onto the BBC website the other day to check out third rate pundit Garth Crook’s team of the week which on this occasion included Andy Carroll (but not Michail Antonio as it would have meant one less Spurs player). Crooks is, of course, entitled in his feature to put forward views on player performance but I felt it entirely inappropriate for him to jump on the London Stadium knocking bandwagon (see quote below). How these guys manage to keep their jobs for life in the BBC Sport is beyond me; it has become a nursing home for dreary incompetents.
“Playing at home in London Stadium can’t be much fun when your fans are so far away they feel as though they are watching the game from the car park. Nevertheless, the Hammers did actually manage to muster some atmosphere in this makeshift football graveyard thanks to an outstanding performance from, unlike Payet, the totally committed Carroll.”
– Garth Crooks in his BBC Team of the Week Feature